26 April 2021

Get involved with SLC: French

Morgan McArthur (French, Russian, Spanish) writes about how she is involved in many activities outside the classroom, from theatre and committees, to research and working with local schools.

Images of students and staff to promote Mental Health Awareness Week

Half of my BA Modern Languages and Cultures degree is in French language and culture, so French Studies is the department I call “home” at university. Along with everything you hear and see in the introduction videos, I’ve felt French and Francophone Studies is really well connected, and staff have been keen to get involved in student initiatives too. Here are some examples.

Student Society and Committee

One of the first things I encountered at our university was our French Society, Le Cercle Francais. It’s a must for getting involved in if you like French – the society organises a range of really cool social, cultural and academic events for students to come together and enjoy. And we also collaborate with our staff members on events such as our Soirée Chanson Francaise and our Mental Health Week Campaign 2020. I’m now the Society’s secretary, so there are opportunities to get involved further too!

Two of our wonderful French staff run an annual French play for students to take part in, I’ve both acted and tech-crewed in it. We even took the show on the road when we offered a play workshop for a Sixth Form in York! French Studies also runs an annual Translation Competition for Y12 andY13 students. As an undergraduate student at Sheffield, you can get involved in the translation workshops we offer to participating schools.

French students and staff during their music evening
Students and staff performing together during our Soirée Chanson Française

We also have an award-winning Student-Staff Committee for students to join. The committee is an important place where students and staff meet formally to discuss issues that require discussion and attention, such as assessment, student support, Year Abroad and other student queries.

I joined the University of Sheffield in 2017 and I’ve gone on to achieve so much since, including winning the University’s Best Academic Representative Award 2018/19, hugely thanks to our French department.

Morgan McArthur

BA Modern Language and Cultures

Choosing modules

Choosing modules can be really difficult, but, luckily, I had great module options in my Second Year. French staff members weren't just great tutors, they also helped me explore research and scholarship opportunities. I took Writing the Revolution, exploring the French Revolution through the politicized, gendered representations of Marie-Antoinette. This stimulated my interest in a SURE funded Summer research project. The SURE scheme offers undergraduate students the chance to gain research experience and to collaborate with our academics. You can read more about my project:  In search of Marie-Antoinette’s adopted black son.

I also picked Minorités et Identités dans la France du XXième siècle. This module explores how Francophone minorities and migrants were treated in France through analysing diverse mediums, such as literature and photography. Both these courses helped me gain another grant from the University – yes there really are many opportunities. My Petrie Watson Exhibition funding will allow me to present my SURE project at the British Conference of Undergraduate Research and, hopefully, attend the Association for Modern and Contemporary France's Annual Conference (ASMCF) in September.

Outreach

Finally, the School of Languages and Cultures works with students in secondary schools through a project called Language Horizons. I took part last year in this five-week programme of online and face-to-face mentoring in ten schools in the Sheffield area. We discussed the power and impact of languages – all languages – and we showed that speaking multiple languages and knowing other cultures enriches our lives, and often, our confidence. I even had the chance to represent Sheffield’s involvement in this scheme in Belgium at the EU Parliament and the British Ambassador’s residence!

I’ve found there’s a lot to get involved in here at the University of Sheffield, hope to see you all in September!

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